On Friday, 23 October, the Libyan Joint Military Commission, known as 5+5, reached a promising agreement on a permanent ceasefire in Libya after five days of talks in Geneva. The Geneva Agreement built on a previous meeting of the commission in Hurghada, Egypt.
The successful talks capped international and regional efforts throughout the last two months after the ceasefire the Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli and the self-styled Libyan National Army (LNA) of Field Marshal Khalifa Haftar agreed on in early August. The international community and the United Nations had exerted diplomatic pressure to make this ceasefire permanent.
The agreement announced Friday still needs the final approval of the GNA in Tripoli and that of the Libyan House of Representatives chaired by Aguila Saleh.
The Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres, said that the Security Council would discuss the Geneva Agreement shortly and added that it is based on Security Council Resolutions 2510 and 2542 on the situation in Libya.
Moreover, he promised to set up in the very near future a United Nations “monitoring mechanism” that would be approved by the Security Council. In this respect, the 5+5 Commission requested that the agreement be adopted in a resolution by the Security Council. The UN secretary general called on the international community to support the Libyans in carrying out the agreement, and in particular to respect the UN-mandated arms embargo on Libya.
The agreement stressed that the ceasefire does not apply to groups designated as terrorist groups by the United Nations, namely Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State group.
Meanwhile, the commission agreed that all “mercenaries” should leave Libyan territories within three months effective the day the agreement entered into force. Furthermore, it also stipulated the freezing of all agreements pertaining to military training by foreign powers on Libyan soil.
According to the agreement, a tallying of all militias in Libya would take place so its armed men would become members in the future Libyan army. In the same vein, the two sides agreed to set up a joint military force, limited in numbers, to deal with any violations of the ceasefire.
In the meantime, the agreement included guiding principles for a new Libya, such as respect for human rights as well as international humanitarian law. It also stated that fighting terrorism is considered a national policy to be implemented by the future Libyan government.
The Geneva Agreement won worldwide support that augurs well for the future. The Egyptian government endorsed it, stressing in a Foreign Ministry statement that “this success” comes in the wake of the results of the Hurghada meeting in September.
The ceasefire agreement is a promising and serious step forward and comes after two successful meetings in Morocco between the Tripoli State Council and the House of Representatives in the last few weeks, and two weeks before the convening in Tunisia of a Forum for Political Dialogue that would include the GNA and the House of Representatives.
From an Egyptian point of view, the agreement has dealt positively with its major national security concerns as far as the Libyan situation is concerned, be it fighting terrorism, or sending home “mercenaries” and the disbanding of armed militias.
On 19 January, Germany had hosted the Berlin Summit on Libya with its security-military, financial-economic and political tracks.
The Geneva Agreement of 23 October could prove a “historic achievement”, as the UN Mission in Libya characterised it. If everything goes as planned, drawing on the Berlin Summit Declaration and Security Council Resolution 2510, Libya should have a constitution and an elected government before the end of 2021. One can only hope.
*The writer is former assistant foreign minister.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 29 October, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly